Talking Point

The West Ham Season Ticket Renewal Scenario

West Ham proudly announced had a record breaking day in the Ticket Office with over 9,360 supporters renewing their season tickets at the London Stadium for next season. That is a new record for the club and accounts for eighteen per cent of the current fifty-two thousand season ticket holders. A club insider said that previous renewals at the Boleyn Ground amounted to around three hundred on day one of the renewal window.

The announcement followed the confirmation that season ticket renews would be frozen in price but I am guessing that new season ticket will slightly rise when they become available as the club has made it clear the price freeze refers to renews only.

There is a little bit of marketing spin in these record figures. The 52,000 season ticket holders include up to 3,600 corporate Club London members all of which have signed up for three years so their automatic renewal was contractually obliged. Next was 3,000 band 5 season holders who paid two years up front when we increased from 54,000 to 57,000 capacity. They were renewed automatically too last Monday without lifting a finger.

Don’t get me wrong, the renewal of over 2,760 season ticket holders in one day was still an impressive feat considering that just a few hundred would renew on the day on before the move. Many of these early renewals are being driven by the promise of priority of relocation within the London Stadium on a first come, first served approach.

The logistics of how this mass migration will be completed is still unclear but it is potentially a logistical nightmare with thousands wanting to move seats.

On the financial side Interest-free credit for four months subject to a £30 admin fee and a low-interest loan at 6% over ten months (down from 19.9%) are also helping to spread the financial pain to supporters which is always welcome.

Reports that current away season tickets will not receive priority have been dismissed by the club as simply not true. I have been told that current away season ticket holders will receive priority if they sign up before the May deadline with the remaining allocation being sold on a first come, first served basis. However, the club do say the allocation of five hundred in the away scheme has never sold out in reality.

Season tickets holders will be able to both upgrade and downgrade bands in the relocation window subject to availability of seats elsewhere. You will first need to renew your season ticket at the current price and if you are successful with your band downgrade you will be credited back the money to you.

Upgrades from any of 10,000 junior season tickets to adult will be permitted but upgrades from junior to adult will not be allowed. The Under 16 season ticket holders will undergo an identity verification process before the beginning of September.

In twitter poll on social media of 400 season ticket holders 61% said they would renew their season ticket with 39% claiming they would not.

KUMB also ran a poll on their forums with nearly 300 voting. 41% said Yes 39% No with 18% Unsure

The London Stadium survey published yesterday had 4,392 supporters who claimed they were active season ticket holders.

2,546 fans say they will renew their season tickets which is around 58%, just 17% claim they won’t renew their season tickets which could account for as many as 8,840 seats if they really mean what they say! 1,082 were undecided which account for the remaining 25%; again history tells us many of them will bite the bullet and renew as the deadline gets closer so renewals could be as high as 83%. With a doubling of season ticket holders from 26,000 to 52,000 last season we were never going to get 100% renewals and not all of the reasons for non-renewal will be down to the London Stadium.

With the club claiming there are now 55,000 on the £10 waiting list for a season ticket holder we will soon see how many of those non-renewed season ticket seats are snapped up by the waiting list.

The club is keen to stress that this year the May deadline is the absolute deadline and you will lose your seat if you don’t renew in time. In previous years we have seen extensions for absent minded fans.

Key Dates

Friday 14 April Deadline for online Monthly Payment Plan applications. Applications can still be made before the renewal deadline but they must be made in person or by calling the Ticket Office.

Wednesday 31 May Renewal deadline. Make sure you renew by 5pm as, following this date, your seat will be made available to Season Ticket Holders wishing to relocate and offered to the 55,000-plus supporters on the Waiting List.

Thursday 1 June Priority relocation window opens. Seat relocations will be subject to seat availability at the end of the renewal window. Relocations will be prioritised by how early you renew your Season Ticket, and the priority window slots will be communicated to supporters nearer the time.

Thursday 15 June Priority relocation window closes.

Friday 16 June Season Tickets on sale to Waiting List.


Talking Point

Remembering Danny

I know there have been many requests for a minute’s applause at the London Stadium this season. A week doesn’t seem to go by without some tragic news of a West Ham fan life ending far too soon.

The club has previously insisted these tributes must be fan led rather then club led but they were always ready to put up photos on the London Stadium big screens if the crowd break into spontaneous applause at the allotted time.

I was touched to hear another tragic tale of one of our own who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of twenty-five last Thursday. His good friend Grant contacted us asking to promote a minutes applause on the 25th minute on Saturday while telling us about his mate Danny.

Grant told me:

“I was a friend of Danny’s – we were very close, speaking daily and seeing each other most times at least once a week. Danny’s first Hammers game was in November 1998 at the age of 6, with his dad, Jeff and brother Steve. West Ham played Leicester City and won 3-2."

“Danny had just turned 25 years old on March 3rd. Danny and I have been going to West Ham together for just over ten years. Our first season tickets were in 2007 at the age of 15, but we had been going to games before this too. We have been season ticket holders on and off since, and I’d estimate we’d been to about 200 games together (including some away) – our last away game together was up in Liverpool in December 2016 where the score finished 2-2.”

“Danny and I both agreed our favourite away day was Goodison Park in March 2016 (Dan’s birthday weekend) where we were 2-0 down in the 79th min and won 3-2. We stayed for half hour after the game with hundreds of West Ham fans singing in the stadium. It was a great day. We also were able to use the trip to visit his girlfriend in Liverpool, so it really was the perfect weekend for him.”

”As for our Match day ritual on the weekend, we would often meet a few hours before the game for a fry-up in Hornchurch or Elm Park. We would then head up to Stratford and go to a pub near the ground (we were in a period of trying different pubs every week because of the recent move, but at Upton Park, we used to go into Queens or The Boleyn regularly. We would also meet Danny’s brother and friend for pre-match drinks, and sometimes family on my side. We would go into the bookies and get our score casts on for the game.”

“Danny had no illness. He had gone to the West Ham v Chelsea game Monday night and dropped me off home after this, which is the last time I saw him before receiving the terrible news Thursday. We were all talking on the group chat on a Wednesday night about the Barcelona v PSG game – Dan was talking about some of the bets that he’d seen people had won, and sent his last message at 23:07. We were told that he passed away in his sleep around midnight. Danny was a current season ticket holder sitting in block 130 at the London Stadium”.

Grant asks you please remember Danny on the 25th minute by joining in a minute’s applause.

However today the club released a statement calling a limit to these regular events due to sheer volume of requests.

WHUFC.com have published a new policy saying:

“Every season, West Ham United are sadly informed of the deaths of many supporters, young and old, from all over the world. Club staff never fail to be moved when a message is received that a member of the Claret and Blue faithful has passed away. Many of the messages received by the Club are accompanied by requests for tributes to be paid on a matchday, in the form of a minute’s applause during a first-team match.However, due to the sheer volume of requests, it is regrettably not possible to formally hold these tributes at every match. The Club will now honour those Hammers no longer with us with a montage of tributes being shown on the big screens at home matches twice a season.The next montage of this type will be displayed at the Premier League fixture with Tottenham Hotspur at London Stadium on Saturday 6 May”

If you haven’t completed the London Stadium Survey there is still time before it closes at midnight thsis Sunday.

Over 6,185 macth going West Ham supporters have completed the survey already. Have you?

It can be completed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7QC93Q2

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Poll

The London Stadium Survey

West Ham co chairman David Gold said last Wednesday…

“I think the majority of fans are happy with the Stadium given the alternatives and if all goes to plan it will be the biggest in London. dg”

On the back on Mr Gold’s statement, Claret and Hugh ran a poll to ask West Ham supporters the very simple question. Are you happy with the London Stadium? With 1,500 voting to make it statistically significant. 56% agreed with the chairman to confirm they were happy with the London Stadium leaving 44% to register their unhappiness.

This prompted Iain and myself to discuss a wide ranging questionnaire on the London Stadium from a supporter’s perspective after 221 days or 31 weeks after we officially played our first game at the former Olympic Stadium last summer.

This is not designed to an anti-board or even a pro-stadium survey, there is no hidden agenda. It is merely a survey to highlight West Ham fans perception of the new stadium and what areas might still need improvement. The full results will be shared with the West Ham board for their consideration.

Please only fill out the survey if you have visited the London Stadium in person to sample one or more of the 19 competitive games and/or the one friendly which have been played at our new home since the 4th August last year. Please base your answers on your most recent visit to the stadium to recognise areas which may have been a problem at the beginning but have since improved.

The aims of this questionnaire is also supported by the West Ham United Independent Supporters’ Association (WHUISA) and they have kindly agreed to send it out to their six hundred plus paid up members. You can find out more about WHUISA and how to join here"

We would like to encourage as many season ticket holders, claret members and general admission ticket supporters to answer this questionnaire as possible so please spread the word far and wide on forums and social media. This is designed to be an independent survey of supporters and not affiliated one particular West Ham site, blog or social media channel.

Take the survey HERE

Sean & Iain


Financial

West Ham's financial situation revealed

Three and a half years ago I wrote my first article for WHTID on West Ham finances for Iain. Today I am back to give an update on the finances after the company accounts were released at the end of Feb.

Hammers leapfrog Everton

West Ham’s newly announced financial accounts show increases in all areas as the club continues on a big upward curve over taking both Everton and Newcastle in terms of financial might with the seventh highest turnover in the Premier League. Last year West Ham sat in ninth position in the Premier League’s turn-over table on £121m behind Newcastle (7th £129m) and Everton (8th £126m).

Last year Everton earned £82.5m from TV money, £17.6m from ticket sales, £9.3m from retail and £12m from commercial activities which saw a £4m decrease in turn-over to £121.5m. Newcastle were relegated to devastating financial consequences.

Record breaking figures

The Hammers turnover increased 17.7% to £142.1m and within that figure ticket sales for the last season at the Boleyn Ground rose to an impressive £26.9m

TV rights income grew to £86.7m and Commercial and sponsorship revenue was up by 31% to £19m while Retail and merchandising sales grew by 29% to £9.3m.

The club managed to record an operating profit of £31.5m excluding player trading but this was reduced to a more modest profit of £1.2m before taxation. The club recorded a £4.8m loss on the books when other factors where included after spending £53.3m on bringing in new players which saw us take on a total wage bill £84.7m and invest £4m in Rush Green training ground. A further £45.7m was spent on players during the 2016/2017 season.

The external bank loans were completely paid off in July 2016 following the sale of the Boleyn Ground with the accounts claiming an £8m profit in the sale.

The Boleyn Ground and land was sold to developers for £38m with £15m going to pay off bank debts that were mortgaged against it and a further £15m going to stadium owners LLDC to contribute to the £323m transition costs of the former Olympic Stadium.

Playing Catch-up

While it is great that the Hammers have jumped up to 7th spot they remain a long way behind the top six in terms of financial might. Manchester United leads the pack with £515.3m followed by Manchester City on £392m, Arsenal are third on £350m and Chelsea fourth on £329m.

Liverpool and Spurs have yet to announce their figures but Liverpool recorded figures of £298m in 2015 while Spurs had a £196m turnover in 2015 so we are unlikely to catch them up any time soon.

Brady pay rise

West Ham owners rewarded West Ham Vice Chairman, Karren Brady with a 40% pay increase although she remains a long way behind the club’s top earners.The highest paid West Ham director employed by parent group WH Holding was paid £907,000 up from £646,000 in 2015. Her £261,000 increase came in the last season at the Boleyn Ground as the Hammers prepared to move the London Stadium.

In 2011 after the Sullivan and Gold takeover, the highest West Ham paid director earned £256,000 but that was increased to £427,000 in 2012.

In 2013 Karren Brady earned £1.63m which included a £1m bonus for winning the London Stadium tenancy deal although the bonus payments are thought to have been staggered over five years. In 2014 her salary returned to £636,000 with a modest £10,000 rise in 2015 to £646,000.

Her £907,000 yearly pay packet pales into insignificance given those earned by her London Premier League rivals. Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy and Arsenal’s CEO Ivan Gazidis for example both paid themselves £2.6m per year in 2016. And with the average Premier League footballer earnings £44,000 per week (or £2.2m per year and average squad players earn well over £1m).

Debt situation eases

Icelandic shareholders CH Holdings and David Sullivan acted as joint bankers in 2013 loaning over £32m to the club between them. The remaining £14.76m repayment was paid back in full in July to both shareholders with interest who stepped in and acted as banks after high street banks previously turned the club down.

The club also paid off the first repayment of shareholder loans including seven per cent interest last August worth £4.2m to the owners Sullivan.

The accounts say the first repayment to Gold and Sullivan relate to shareholder loans dating back to 2011. The shareholders have loaned £49.2m in total between them which has been bumped up to £61.5m with a further £12.3m of accrued interest. Although it appears the remaining £57.3m of shareholders loan was due to be paid back on 1st January 2017, a post financial year note on 3rd October last year says the pay back of the remainder of the share holders loans will now be deferred until 1st January 2020.

Despite being bank debt free the club continued to loan money from pay day lenders tied to their TV money income. The Hammers repaid £30m of loans from JG Funding in May last year but took out a new credit facility with lenders Media and Rights Funding worth another £30m which is payable by July this year through direct payments by the Premier League to the lenders.

The Premier League are looking to outlaw offshore lenders and while Media and Rights Funding is registered with the FCA it’s funding comes from the British Virgin Islands so it remains to be seen how how these arrangements can carry on for.

Onwards and upwards

The figures are moving in the right direction. Next year’s figures which are unlikely to released until next February are likely to smash the £200m barrier! In those accounts will be the £38m income for the sale of the Boleyn ground, the first year of the new bumper TV deal worth £128m for finishing in seventh spot, ticket sales at the London Stadium is expected to rise by £13m to around £40m. You would expect commercial and sponsorship to rise by another 30% to around £25m and retail to double to £19m in an enlarged and expanded mega store. Not forgetting the £25m we received for the French man.

Incredibly our turnover for the year ending 31st May 2017 could come in at a staggering £275 million. In 2012 our turnover was just £46m following relegation.

Always happy to answer financial related questions to the best of my ability in the comments section below.

Sean

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Guest Post

Further Update from WHUISA

Guest Post by Paul Christmas (Joint Chairman of WHUISA)

WHUISA

ACCESSIBILITY

WHUISA agreed there needs to be a disability association and we are willing to help by having one as part of WHUISA. I have contacted one of the disability reps at the meeting and await a response. Two disabled members of WHUISA have contacted me and we are looking to set something up.

A number of issues came up from the disabled reps with a request for West Ham to have their own congregating place specifically set up for people with disabilities. A room that would be dry, warm and adapted for the variety of disabilities people have. Man U have such a place and is excellent. However where could / would West Ham house such a place?

Disabled changing rooms are available but people I have spoken to since were not aware of their existence.

BUSINESSES IN WEST HAMLEGACY

The club have no official responsibility in helping such businesses. By the time the residential complex is built on the old ground many businesses in the area will have folded. Delaware North (DN) is the company responsible for authorising the food / drink outlets around the Stadium. It seems the club have recognised that they can help in some way by suggesting they will help to explain the process (an internet pack was mentioned) and give direct contact to DN.

Any business that was at Upton Park that wants to have a presence at the new place should contact Tara Warren (TW) at the club and request details / help. WHUISA are happy to help in any way they can.

HAMMERS SUPPORTERS CLUB (HSC)

As part of a joint committee of HSC members and committee members of HSC discussions have occurred between us and Newham Council while a place has been sourced for the HSC to move to as a satellite. The HSC is fully aware of this but the executive committee has not responded. Further the chair person has had meetings with Tara Warren unbeknown to other members of the HSC committee and the joint committee. This explained Karren Brady’s (KB) comment in the minutes.

The club is the only entity that can save the HSC. The HSC will close soon and will not make the end of the season. I made this point specifically.

A meeting between West Ham, the HSC and Newham Council is scheduled for 8/2 and I wish the HSC all the very best.

TOILETS

The point was made that the toilets (pods) which had been built since those for the Olympics were outside had not been designed very well. For male toilets the one way in and the same way out system made for tedious queues in the BML before, at half time and after the match. Further there are huge numbers of people coming from all parts of the ground to use toilets and massive bottlenecks develop. This is fine for an event like the Olympics when people can go when they want but at a football match there is a massive demand at half and full time. There are also a large number of female toilets. Whilst this is commendable the majority of people in the BML are male and a request was made to see if changes could be made to toilet design as well as possible increase in male toilets. For men there are only a small number of actual ‘sit down’ toilets in the ‘pods’ and this needs looking at too.

SECURITY

Security at the stadium is a big concern to our members. LS185 re-iterated their policy but in the light of current security / terrorist threats I was not convinced and they need to up their game.

Too many young people in important areas of the ground with little experience of big crowds.

The feedback promised by Peter Smith will be crucial. However I would not expect to wait until May 24th for this information to be disseminated.

Many people had problems getting from one place to another in the ground so while KB’s offer to assist a SAB member to get to where they want was kind Adrian Bradshaw did wonder whether this assistance would be offered to the other 50 odd thousand people in the ground. The answer was that it could not for obvious reasons. However why should someone in the SAB be afforded a privilege not available to others?

TURNSTILE CONGESTION

The club have acted immediately on my request to highlight getting to the match early or you will miss the KO. Such a message was the first thing read on the Man City preview e-mail. This should be on all further preview e-mails.

I further requested separate queues be considered to speed up the process. I proposed a queue for those with bags, one for people with no bags and one for families. This was included in the action plan.

ROUTE TO / FROM STADIUM / WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE

The route changes as there are ongoing building works which will not be finished for a number of years. This is something we have to suffer. Kevin Radley (KR) has looked in to the different number of routes being used out of the stadium and he has identified 5. He said people were fed up with having the routes changed. He provided a route plan to WHUISA and offered to help the club in this issue.

Further Westfield have a capacity in the shopping centre of 35,000 at any one time. They are keep an eye on this but with up to 57,000 coming into the area not shopping related but passing through they are mindful to keep us away as an increase in this capacity may see shoppers not allowed in due to safety reasons.

This situation is compounded if there ever was an evacuation of Westfield. The fire drills see the crowds from Westfield come out towards the stadium so fans are being diverted away in case this happens.
This begs a number questions. Further will West Ham ever play on a Boxing Day at home while the sales are on ? We have not played a home Boxing Day fixture since Arsenal in 2013. We are due one…..

Westfield are in control of their premises and while West Ham can request they open blocked routes such as those by The Cow Westfield are not obliged to accede. Westfield will may respond to a number of lobby / pressure groups but it seems sheer weight of numbers will see us stuck with the current mess of an egress we have as fans. It is tedious.

TRANSPORT LINKS

The actual links are good – it is the number of people using these links which is causing issues. SAB members complained of being herded to stations like cattle, delayed, packed like sardines on trains, noted continual disruption on Greater Anglia services and poor crowd control at Stratford International (SI).
Such things are actually out of the clubs control due however we were promised world class travel links and the ongoing situation, which does not affect all fans, has upset a significant number it does affect.

The anomaly as to who is responsible outside this station came up as people are stopped from getting to trains at this station to allow people at Stratford station to get on. This causes queues outside SI as there is limited pavement space so people are spilling onto the road. There are no barriers here and the roads are controlled by Newham council. What misfortune will it take for someone to do something ?
Direct links between fans and the 3rd parties / travel companies should be set up. WHUISA have offered to be a conduit.

It seems the travel situation is not world class… yet.

WEST HAM ‘LOOK AND FEEL’

KB confirmed the club will have to deliver a clean stadium for this summer’s World Athletics Championships. This means ALL West Ham signage in, on and around the stadium will be removed at the end of this season. Such changes confirm that we are just tenants in a building that will never be our home as the Boleyn Ground was. The club are hopeful that the West Ham sign on top of the roof will stay.

STEWARDING

Stewarding produced the highest level of responses from our members. A number of individual concerns were highlighted by SAB members and I made as many points as I could. I highlighted the distrust of fans and 3rd party stewards.

The stadium is a massive operational headache for LS185 who are still learning about how to deal with a 57,000 football crowd. They felt they were doing a good job at game by game 17 but I disagreed and wondered how long it would take for a nasty incident to occur before they were good enough.

While the layout and vastness of the stadium makes the job hard maybe the ground needs to be split into traditional separate stands to make the job easier. I made this point to LS185 at the Chelsea debrief meeting last year.

Details provided by the club on bringing back former Boleyn stewards had been raised at the bloggers / website meeting and so was not discussed at this meeting – something the SAB should be talking about.

Hard ticket checks are only employed at Blocks 112/113/114 .

These are used inside the ground as the stadium is open internally. Anyone from any area can go to any part of the ground. This causes frustration as people are not able to get used to the crowd around them as it constantly changes. This will be the way it is unless internal barriers are introduced to create specific stand areas that we were used to at the Boleyn.

Interaction procedures were due to be initiated for the Man City match but video received by WHUISA which is being made available to the club suggests some have not read the procedures yet.

While the club re-iterated their stance on people informing the club it seems there is not enough feedback from the club / Stadium operators as to what they have actually done. This should be improved.

BLOCK 114

A number of unsavoury incidents from this area such as coin throwing led to the Safety Liaison Authority (SLA) closing this block and people were moved to block 127. This caused a multitude of issues for many innocent fans however the club said that 97 fans from this block have been banned. A return to block 114 must be authorised by the SLA. Hard ticket checks are in force in this area to stop rouge fans infiltrating the area from other parts of the stadium and coin throwing seems to have stopped.

The club want fans to return to their original seats and a significant number of fans in block 127 still wish to be relocated to block 114. Sadly this is too late for one of our fans and WHUISA founding members – Alan Walker who sadly passed away at the end of January. He was deeply upset at being moved away from the area and a number of his friends and spoke of his wish to watch his beloved West Ham from where he worked so hard to be during the migration process. Our hope and lasting legacy to Alan must be that fans are moved back to this area as soon as possible, they are allowed to enjoy the match in the way they have done for years (singing / shouting / chanting / banter / dancing) and the club ensures coin throwers are persona non grata.

PERSISTENT STANDING

It was revealed that the move to a new stadium saw a decision made where there would be a drive to ensure people sat down at the match. I noted that this drive was unique to West Ham fans and unfair and reminded everyone to watch Match of the Day where you would clearly see fans standing at all Premier League grounds. This drive to make people sit in some areas of the lower tiers was counter productive.

This showed the problem in the migration process where the system failed and families / other people used to sitting at the BG became mixed with fans who had never sat down at all at the BG. This caused in fighting between West Ham fans.

It is noted the club, to their credit, have recognised this problem and have moved 450 people.

I did not receive a direct answer from Nicola Keye (NK) about whether the club would open an area specifically for families despite asking 3 times. In the small print and in the first instance a season ticket holder has the right to renew their seat. Only once this has occurred can a decision be made about relocation issues. In other words the club cannot force people to move from their seat to create a family area.

On reflection post meeting a solution to this is could be to stipulate an area that is to be a family area – say 4 /5 blocks of the Bobby Moore Upper and then those in this area currently should get the first opportunity to move to another area should they not wish to be in the family area. Over a short period of time the club could have an official area for families.

SUPPORTERS SERVICES

The club acknowledged issues / backlog in dealing with customer complaints and say they have improved this. However the stigma still remains that the club gets information from fans and fails to respond in a large number of cases. I know as I am still waiting for a response to a letter I sent to the chairmen of all people. WHUISA are happy to act as a conduit for fans should they wish to choose them.

KB left for another meeting at 8pm but the SAB continued to meet for about another 40 minutes. The bloggers / website meeting was discussed and this has been addressed in my earlier post.

Paul Christmas

Joint Chair of WHUISA


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